SPRINGFIELD – Only one hurdle remained for the governor's proposal to cover every uninsured child in the state after it passed the Senate and won approval from a House committee on Wednesday.
The full House is expected to debate the All Kids plan as early as today.
All Kids is targeted at Illinois children whose parents earn too much to qualify for the state's KidCare program but not enough to afford other kinds of health insurance.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich expects to pay for the $45 million medical, dental and vision care program primarily by shifting the state's Medicaid patients to a managed care system, which he claims will save $56 million.
According to Blagojevich, a family with two children and an annual income between $40,000 and $59,000 would pay a $40 monthly premium per child under All Kids, and a $10 copay for each doctor visit. The same size family earning between $60,000 and $79,000 would pay a $70 monthly premium per child, and a $15 copay for doctor visits. There would be no copay for preventive care such as regular checkups or immunizations.
But details like copay and premium amounts or eligibility requirements were not included in the legislation, which Republicans said made them uncomfortable.
"There is very little substance in the bill that you are getting ready to vote on," warned state Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon.
Senate President Emil Jones, D-Chicago, who sponsored HB 806, said those decisions would be left up to the Department of Healthcare and Family Services and the General Assembly's Joint Commission on Administrative Rules.
"Let the rule-making body deal with it," he said.
State Sen. Rick Winkel, R-Urbana, agreed that kids needed health care, but said he could not vote for legislation that failed to explain clearly how the program would work.
"This body is essentially being asked to delegate its legislative authority to an administrative agency," he said. "I have a big concern about that."
Republicans also questioned the governor's cost estimates and whether the state would really be able to afford the program.
There has been intense pressure from the Blagojevich administration to fast-track the All Kids bill, which is expected to be the centerpiece of the governor's yet-to-be-announced re-election campaign.
But supporters said the bill was about people, not politics.
"This isn't no campaign spin, this is something that needs to be done right now, when we can do it," said state Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago.
In a written statement on Wednesday evening, Blagojevich thanked the Senate for approving the bill and urged the House to do the same.
"No child should have to wait for medical attention until their only option is the emergency room," the governor stated. "Each and every child in Illinois should have health care, and I encourage members of the House to pass All Kids to make that possible."
The Senate passed the bill on a vote of 32 to 23, with two members voting present. It passed the House human services appropriations committee on a vote of 10 to 1.